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Tag: brickfile

Clash of Clans tutorial anatomy

This weekend I want to do an experiment, the first series of articles. This one is dedicated to one of my favorite games of all the times: Clash of Clans. The purpose of this post is to share my way of breaking down the tutorials of the games I play.

Being scrappy is OK

There is a simple process you can follow, it takes a work day more or less:

  • Play the game recording the session
  • Create the brickfile for the Tutorial
  • Use a spreadsheet to dissect everything

The result is something like this

You can see the google sheet here and make your copy if you want.

  • The first two columns are the report of every dialogue step by step
  • Then I detail the feature (or mechanic) the game wants to teach every step and the action needed to pass to the next step
  • I take notes on narrative. The character speaking and the word count are important for the translation budget. The dimension of every script, in fact, depends directly on the number of characters speaking and the locations used. You can check out this masterclass on short stories.
  • Finally, I put my bias into commenting on the narrative, assigning an intensity score to every beat and focusing on the tone. For reference, I left the list of tones in a separate tab. The list is taken from this article.

Intensity score goes from 1 to 5, and:

  1. Already seen, not exciting
  2. New thing on screen, still not exciting
  3. Interesting
  4. Cool surprise
  5. Thrill

It is just a personal valuation useful to me to see where I would like to improve the things!

I played: Merge Animals 3D

The thing I like the most about the hypercasual trend is that I really cannot deeply understand why all of this works. My professional mind has collected a lot of assumptions regarding game design theories. So that I am constantly challenged when I see millions of people playing silly games. Fascinating!

Merge Animals 3D FTUE

This weekend I tried out Merge Animals 3D that is performing well on mobile phones. The concept is pretty cool. The game is about trying out different combinations of animal traits on a runner and see how they do perform on the track. The main character is a human anonymous mannequin. He is competing against two mannekins more, also them with random configurations. The camera is top-right and impedes having a clear view of what is coming, so that some reflexes are needed to overcome obstacles. Then you unlock a new animal trait which will permit to overcome other kind of obstacles.

There are five kind of possible traits to dominate with an animal prothesis: strength, water, climb, fly and run. I haven’t found much more. It is impossible to arrive the last, I have tried everything. If you don’t end the race first no worries: you will still pass to the next levels! No lose condition at all.

The colors and textures are completely plain, that suggests that the game works with the part of our thinking system which looks for immediacy. No complex thoughts involved at all. Classic for the hypercasual games!

The game monetises with ads. I am afraid there is too few challenge right now. Maybe developers are trying out the core loop and then they will iterate on that.

Merge Animals 3D Core Loop

After a while I found pretty frustrating having to choose manually the mutations I wanted to face the next “challenge”. A UX improvement would be in that sense.

There is nothing suggesting to the Player why is doing all of that. A narrative design improvement would probably include a level sequence or images unlock. You discovered a new animal trait? tell me something about that animal.

Levels have basically no challenge. In order to maintain that philosophy, a Level Design improvement would probably be including some bonus level where the Player could collect letters or other elements useful to unlock new mannequin skins, for instance.

The game system is super simple. For the System Design part I would probably try to find some idle mechanic for the levels. Leves are a rewarding moment and not a challenging one, as mentioned before. Probably the Players who stay more than 2 days would find fun having some automatic system where they can grind other elements related with experiments and merging.

You will find the brickfile on github, as usual.

How to create a repository of the games we play

I learned a technique that I use a lot from a YouTube video of an industry expert. The technique is called brickfile and is an excellent tool to research and internalize some aspects of a game that we are studying and analyzing.

When I play a new title, I always record game sessions and upload them to my YouTube channel. In the case of mobile games, I wait for a session on day 3 and try to record at least 40 minutes of play by going through all possible screens.
Save snapshots of the gameplay video, watching it again. I use VLC for this operation which allows you to save snapshots using the SHIFT + S combination

vlc snapshots
Take all the snaps and pass them to the PureRef program, which is free and allows you to view them in the form of a grid.

Brickfile is the name of this format, and is very useful for future reference. You can easily check the various features of a game and use each snapshot for wireframes, too. In fact, from PureRef you can easily copy and paste into other programs such as Inkscape!

I have created a public repository on GitHub where I will upload my brickfiles. It would be great if it were a collaborative project!